Sharing Soil Health Knowledge and Practice through Grazing Networks

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $74,363.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Grant Recipient: GrassWorks, Inc.
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jill Hapner
GrassWorks, Inc.

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial)
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, goats, poultry, rabbits, sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy, eggs, meat


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, feed management, free-range, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: pollinator habitat, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Energy: energy use
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, quality of life, sustainability measures


    This project is working at statewide and local levels to bring together local learning teams of agency staff, grazing network coordinators, and livestock farmers for mutual education on managing cropland and pastures for improved soil health. GrassWorks is a statewide farmer organization that established a soil health education program in 2014. This project is extending that program and delivering educational content to agency staff through Wisconsin’s four Resource Conservation and Development Councils (RC&D) that sponsor grazing networks. This NRC SARE funding provides support for those networks to engage local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), County Land Conservation (LCD), and University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) staff over two years in a co-learning project on pasture soil health.  This project is using NRCS and LCD soil science expertise, building on NRCS’s current soil health initiative. UWEX adult education expertise and network coordinator grazing expertise is also contributing to this locally-based, mutual professional development effort.

    Project objectives:

    Project objectives include: 1) engaging local agency staff in delivering pasture soil health education through grazing network activities, 2) recruiting local agency staff to support ongoing grazing network activities, and 3) providing statewide coordination of the project to establish a stronger, durable relationship between GrassWorks and local grazing networks. Activities include training of network coordinators and agency staff on pasture soil health, collaboration among local staff on at least two pasture walks or workshops on soil health in each of the four RC&D areas, and creation of a grazing network coordinator toolkit. This project is successfully fostering collaboration among local participants through mutual learning on the soil health benefits of well-managed pasture.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.